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tv   State of the Union  CNN  January 1, 2012 9:00am-10:00am PST

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phenomenal rise of newt gingrich? >> if you don't prevail in iowa or don't prevail to get the nomination, will you endorse -- >> if it is newt gingrich, will you give your endorsement? >> if it came down to it, could you see yourself supporting either one of these men if they got the nomination? >> now, some horse race questions can be legitimate and the anchors do get into policy, as well. but when it comes to asking questions based on a poll and treating the trailing candidates as, well, loser, videotape tells the story. the voters deserve better than that. that's it for this edition of "reliable sources." i'm howard kurtz-happy new year. we'll be in new hampshire next sunday at 11:00 a.m. eastern. "state of the union" with candy crowley in iowa ge ginns right now. good morning and happy new year from iowa. a state where romney could begin to end it, paul could complicate it, and any candidate could surprise.
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today, ron paul on the perils and promise of the efforts here and rick santorum on the sudden spotlight over his booming campaign, then the lay of the land from two influential iowan republicans, governor terry branstad and congressman steve king. fresh off the campaign trail "the washington post" dan balz "the wall street journal's" neil king give us their perspective. i'm candy crowley in des moines. and this is "state of the union". it's been a rough couple of weeks for ron paul. his top-tier seeding hs brought new scrutiny to some of his old writings. now big enough threat to draw unanimous dismissals from opponents. >> he's unelectable. >> you need to think long and hard about in casting your vote for congressman paul. >> one of the people running for president thinks it's okay for iran to have a nuclear weapon. i don't. >> ron paul is not getting the nomination. >> someone that is so out of sync with the american people that they don't need to be the
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president of the united states. >> could you vote for him? >> no. >> reporter: through it all paul's fervent support in iowa has not wavered. he is marching on dropping major cash for ads in new hampshire and south carolina, and he's confident enough about iowa to spend this weekend at home in texas. i spoke to the congressman earlier this morning. congressman paul, thank you so much for joining us this morning. a new "des moines register" poll is out. it shows you in second place very close to mitt romney at this point. another figure that caught our eye goes back to what so many of your colleagues on the campaign trail have been saying about you this weekend, that is, that you are unelectable. that has been quite the word when they talked about you this week. in this poll, 29% of likely iowa republican caucusgoers also found you the least electable of all the candidates. why is that? >> well, maybe it's not true. i've been pretty electable.
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i was elected 12 times once people got to know me in my own congressional district. i think that might be more propaganda than anything else. so we'll wait and see. we will know a lot more about how the election goes tomorrow. >> being elected among folks that know you in a small district in texas is somewhat of a less daunting task than across the country, and there is the feeling -- and i'm sure you heard your colleagues say he's not electable, he's too outside the mainstream, his views on foreign policy, et cetera, et cetera. i wanted you to respond again to that, but i want you to listen. you've been very tough on newt gingrich, calling him a serial hypocrite, et cetera, et cetera. he replied in kind. i want you to take a listen to what he had to say. >> i think as a protest, he's a very reasonable candidate. as a potential president, a person who thinks the united states was responsible for 9/11,
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a person who believes -- who wrote in his newsletter that the world trade center bombing in '93 might have been a cia plot, a perp who believes it doesn't matter if the iranians have a nuclear weapon. look at ron paul's systemic avoidance of reality and you look at his newsletters and his ads, his ads are about as accurate as his newsletters. >> congressman paul, you have denounced these newsletters that he's talking about. but again, the idea that your views are outside the mainstream about 9/11 and so many other things. your reaction. >> well, that's a gross distortion, and you could spend a long time trying to dispute what he's saying but it's gross distortion. the bigger question is why are the rallies going so well for him? why are the crowds getting bigger and bigger? why is it that 70% of the american people want us to get out of afghanistan? why do about 85% of the people want us to rein in the federal
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reserve? why do so many, especially conservative republicans, want us to cut back and nobody is offering any cuts? so i would say that i'm pretty mainstream. i think that people who are attacking me now are the ones who can't defend their records and they've been all over the place. they've been flip-flopping and they can't defend themselves. they're having a little trouble finding any flip-flops on me so they have to go and dig up and distort and demagogue issues. but if you look at the real issues that count, i wish we would concentrate on that, and that is the foreign policy, the spending, the monetary policy, personal liberties that i talk about all the time, and with those conditions, this is where i get the support. and not only is it with republicans, but these views are really, really, you know, attractive to the independents and the democrats. so the rally, it is true, people say, oh, well, he's going to have some independents come in.
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well, that's the name of the game. you get people. you bring coalitions together. you get the frustrated progressive, the independents, the republicans who truly want spending cuts and all of a sudden i'm mainstream. they're looking for things. they're struggling. and they're demagoguing the issue. >> let me ask you. you have addressed a lot of these complaints about past writings that were at least under your name but you said you had no knowledge of and didn't write. one thing that caught my eye when i was looking through some of the briefing books. it was something that was in the congressional record, that you inserted into the congressional record from june of 2004. i wanted to talk to you about it. you said, contrary to the claims of the supporters of the civil rights act of 1964, the act did not improve race relations or enhance freedom. instead, the forced integration dictated by the civil rights act of 1964 increased racial tensions while diminishing individual liberty. my question to you is, whose individual liberty did it
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diminish, and do you think the country would have been better off in terms of race relations without the civil rights act of 1964? >> we could have done it a better way. the jim crow laws, we're all better off for that. that is an important issue. i strongly supported that. what you don't want to do is undermine the concept of liberty in that process. and what they did in that bill was they destroyed the principle of private property and private choices. so if you do this, all civil liberties are protected by private property rights, whether it's a tv station or newspaper or a church billing building or the bedroom. civil liberties are not divorced from property. if you try to improve a relationship by forcing and people and telling people what they can't do and you ignore and undermine the principles of liberty then the government can come into our bedrooms.
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that's exactly what has happened. look at what's happened to the patriot act, they can come into our bedrooms our businesses, the private property has been in their mind. it started back then. they can't twist that and say i was against or favored jim crow laws or anything else. it's the government that causes so much of the racial tensions when you look at anything from slavery on down to segregation in the military and jim crow laws. and right now, the real problem we face today is the discrimination in our court system. the war on drugs. think of how biased that is against the minorities. they go into prison much way out of proportion to their numbers. they get the death penalty out of proportion with their numbers. if you look at what the minorities suffer in ordinary wars, whether it's draft or no draft, they suffer much more out of proprgs. those are the kinds of things of discrimination that have to be dealt with, but you don't ever want to undermine the principles
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of private property and private choices in order to fix some of these problems. you need to repeal the laws over the centuries because it is the government so often that institutionalized segregation and slavery and all the other things. the understanding of private property would solve our problems, and we indeed need to look at the war on drugs if anybody cares about the -- about the abuse of our civil liberties and the abuse of minorities in the court system. >> congressman, stick with me a minute. after the break, more with ron paul on his republican rivals and the never-ending rumors about a third party bid. but, i have to support my family, so how do i go back to school? university of phoenix made it doable. a lot of my instructors were principals in my district. i wouldn't be where i am without that degree. my name is dr. carrie buck. i helped turn an at-risk school into an award winning school, and i am a phoenix.
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back with republican presidential candidate ron paul. congressman, on iran. a lot of your colleagues on the campaign trail have said this idea that it's okay for iran to require -- to acquire nuclear power, which you have -- they say you have suggested is no big
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deal, is one of the huge things that they hit you on. we're now learning that scientists in iran have produced the country's first nuclear fuel rod, this according to iran itself. does nothing give you pause about a country like iran, which is an enemy of the united states, basically, acquiring nuclear weaponry? >> sure, it does. and those words you were trying to put in my mouth just aren't true. i'm very concerned about it. as a matter of fact, i would like to see a lot less nuclear weapons. at least iran is in the nuclear nonproliferation treaty. so i would say that's a step. and they do have inspections. the aeie did not find any evidence that they are on the verge of a weapon. you know, even the head of the mossad in israel are saying well, you know, even if p they had a weapon they are not an existential threat. so i think we need to get this in the balance. i don't want them to have a
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weapon. we have to be careful. we have to contain them if they do get one. but even israel's top leaders are saying they would not be an existential threat, we say go easy. as a matter of fact, dagan said in bombing those sites right now would be stupid. so i would say that we just need to be more cautious. i think if we overreact and participate in bombing iran, we're looking for a lot more trouble. we went into iraq carelessly. we don't need a war in iran carelessly. this is my argument. but to say that i don't care is not fair. >> okay. let me move you on to politics since we're kind of in the political world right now here in iowa. you have not precisely ruled out a third-party bid. i'm wondering if some of these attacks on you that have been out there for the past ten days have given you any pause about staying inside the republican party. >> i haven't even thought about it except when people like you keep asking me about it because i have a race going.
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i'm essentially tied for first place, and why would i even consider doing anything like that? so -- but i don't like absolutes. i don't want to say i will never do so-and-so. but i have no plans in doing it. we're doing very, very well. and people should just be a little bit patient, you know. on tuesday we're going to find out a lot more about the future of this election. >> and you have also said that your support of any colleague that might beat you and become the republican nominee would depend on how close they came to your views on certain things. if particular, does that include oversight of the fed, or what in particular are you talking about? and who comes closest, do you think, of being a candidate you could support right now should they beat you? >> well, i think they all fit the status quo. none of them really challenges foreign policy. they don't challenge the
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spending. nobody has proposed any real cuts. nobody challenges the federal reserve. i think it's going to shift. a few of them have said something about auditing the fed and others at times have hinted that maybe we ought to be a little more cautious and a little more diplomatic with our foreign policy. i'd have to wait and see, you know, what the platform looks like. >> one of the interesting things, i think, about "the des moines register" poll today is that it was a three-day poll. but if you take just the last two days, rick santorum overtakes you and goes into second place, showing that he is gathering up some momentum. what do you think the appeal is there with rick santorum? why has he suddenly become kind of the person to watch? >> well, maybe it's the people who just got frustrated with the other ones and are just shifting their views. that's one thing you can't say about my supporters. they don't shift their views.
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once they understand what the foreign policy and monetary policy is all about, they don't leave. they're up and down. i think it's part of that. >> one of the other things that the poll showed is when they talked to your supporters, 56% of them said they were definitely going. that is lower than the number of romney supporters who said they would go and lower than the number of santorum supporters who said they would be going. what do you think has happened here? we so often say ron paul has the best turnout operation. he is the one that is really working on the ground, and yet 56% of the supporters they sear definitely going. >> definitely what? >> definitely going to go caucus. 56% of people, of likely caucusgoers only will say that they're definitely going. so, in other words, 44% they say
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may not go. >> i wouldn't bet money on that type of statistic. we have the names and telephone numbers. only tuesday is going to tell you how that's going to work out. we are optimistic about getting our people there. >> give me a prediction here in our last 30 seconds, congressman. are you going to pull this out in iowa, and if you do, what does it mean for the future of your campaign? >> i have no idea what's going to happen. i may come in first, i may come in second. i doubt i'll come in third or fourth. and the future of the campaign for liberty will always be ongoing. i think we're doing to have a good showing. we ler have. we're doing quite well in new hampshire, so i would say the momentum for the cause of freedom in this country and restoration of the constitution, sensible foreign policy, i would say azreszing the federal reserve and our economic crisis and spending, i would say the people are with me on this and the momentum is going to continue regardless of exactly what happened and what place i am on tuesday night. >> congressman ron paul, thanks for joining us.
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we will see you a little later here in iowa. up next, some know him as the iowa kingmaker, so why hasn't congressman steve king made an endorsement? [ female announcer ] splenda® no calorie sweetener is sweet... and more. if you replace 3 tablespoons of sugar a day with splenda®, you'll save 100 calories a day. that could help you lose up to 10 pounds in a year. and now get even more with splenda® essentials, the only line of sweeteners with a small boost of fiber, or antioxidants, or b vitamins in every packet. just another reason why you get more... when you sweeten with splenda®. ♪ yeah, our low prices are even lower. we need to teach her how to walk. she is taking up valuable cart space. aren't you, honey? [ male announcer ] it's our biggest clearance event of the year where our prices are even lower. save money. live better. walmart.
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you can't be an iowa to too long without hearing the name steve king, republican congressman's endorsement is well quoted by some of the presidential candidates stomping through this state. but so far they've come up empty handed. that's including one of his good friends michele bachmann. steve king joins me here in des moines. congressman, thanks for being here. i wanted to remind you the last time we were together which was in august right after the ames straw poll won by your good friend michele bachmann. >> i, like everyone, needs to measure who would make the best president of the united states. i already know who would make the best friend. but i want to sit back for a while and get into september and see how these candidates conduct themselves. >> not only are we into september, we're actually into january now. we have two more days, two more days until the caucuses.
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who is your choice here? >> i tell you first i was wearing the same tie so i need to go out and buy some ties. it was my choice. and, you know, this is just a very tough decision. and -- >> why is it so tough though? >> it's tough because of a whole series of things. more than one friend in this race, for one thing. and those things do weigh into this, although it should be and needs to be about who will make the best president of the united states, who will best match up against barack obama, who carries the principles best, who has emerged through this crucible. which this is a gauntlet in iowa and an even tougher gauntlet going through new hampshire and south carolina and beyond. one of the things that holds me back and it's in an article in the des moines register day before yesterday that jim demint and i wrote, but to have that vision of how the budget situation that we are in has changed since august. it's gotten worse. and it's clear to me that the leadership doesn't exist or at least it's not deployed in congress, in the house or the senate to lead us out of this and get us to the point where we
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can pay the first net dollar off our national debt. that's part of -- i want to hear that. i want to know they believe it and they can lead america where we need to go to get us back from the abyss of a fiscal calamity. that's part of it. i haven't seen that with the clarity that i want to see. if me holding back on there helps get the case before the american people, i may have to do that. >> the power of your endorsement is greatest here in iowa. you are a social conservative. certainly, if you look at the slate of candidates you would have to say rick santorum comes closest to you in terms of the social issues. am i correct? >> i don't know about that. he's very, very strong. his reputation, has activities in it, very strong. michele bachmann has a strong set of beliefs that matchup with rick santorum. >> let me rephrase. those of now look like they may come out of iowa with one of the three tickets, between rick santorum, ron paul, and mitt romney. >> closer on the social issues
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of rick santorum of those three, without question. perry needs to have a nod of where he stands. he's very solid, too. but go ahead. >> does that -- is that paramount to you, or is now electability something that comes into play? >> i think it's three things. yes, i'm a social conservative, but i'm also a fiscal conservative. and i'm a full-spectrum conservative. it's always been that way. i've always gone where i thought the greatest urgency existed for us to weigh in on these issues. it's the bread though, the fiscal issues meeting a balanced budget amendment. someone who understands that and will get that done. someone who stand on the issues of life and marriage and then to take a look at the electability and having a foreign policy and the vision for where america needs to go to take us upwards to the next level of our destiny. i am still looking for that. if that instant comes and i'm convinced that one will do a significant better job than the others, i won't hesitate. i'll step in. it has to be a conviction on my part. i don't think i would be doing justice to this privilege that i have if it were not a conviction.
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>> let me show you the des moines register poll, which i'm sure you saw this morning. they're very good generally in terms of predicting caucus results. mitt romney, 24%. ron paul, 22%. rick santorum, 15%. newt gingrich, 12%. rick perry, michele bachmann, down the line. you had said that you did want to see "the des moines register" poll before you began to make up your mind. you have also said that you think ron paul's foreign policy views are scary. now would be the time if you want to help a social conservative, now would be the time to do it. that says to me that there is something paramount in gaining your endorsement that is more than just you have to believe everything i do. >> well, take a look at ron paul's foreign policy, for example. and that is also a factor in this. there are many things i would say good about ron paul. i served with him nine years in
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congress and sometimes find ourselves a handful voting together. audit the fed and sound money and constitutionalism. ron paul stands excellent on all of that. his position which is when i asked the question of him in columbus, south carolina, where would you project power in the united states. he said he wouldn't. he would pull the military back inside the united states of america. powers will be filled immediately and the president would have the constitutional authority to do that abruptly. so i can see the chinese coming into that vacuum and the russians and chavez perhaps helping out a revolution in cuba. this is very frightening to me to think that there's a solid support out there that might say 14 years of america's blood and pressures a all been spent. it all be squandered with stroke of a president's pen. >> in the little time we have left, and we're reading the tea leaves here because you're not
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going to tell me who you are going to endorse, why have you not gone hunting with mitt romney? you have been with rick santorum. why not mitt romney? >> i hope we can work that in. there's really not a reason. >> it's a tea leaf. >> well, okay. but from the time in the state here, most of this has happened a little bit spontaneously. the first time with rick perry happened because one of my campaign people were in the same room with his when he said, when am i going to get to pick up the shotgun. my staff overheard that and said we can help with that. rick santorum was the next day. michele bachmann and i planned to do this over a year ago and logistics just didn't work out. i talked to her a couple of days ago and we started it up again after this so she has time next year. that's the plan we have with each other.
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>> 41% still undecided. are you shocked by that? >> no, but i'm surprised that that number seems to be going up if i'm seeing the same polls instead of down, creeping up. >> encourage your people to come out of the caucus, going there undecided is be just fine but lots of them -- >> helping them make up their minds. >> watch that dynamics of that happen. 1,774 caucus locations. that means if you've got 1,774 well-respected effective speakers on our behalf, you're going to pick up a lot of the undecided. that's going to make the difference on tuesday night. >> congressman steve king, thank you so much. up next, another week, another search for a republican. this time rick santorum. we dig a little deeper. [ slap! ] [ slap! slap! slap! slap! ] ow, ow! [ male announcer ] your favorite foods fighting you? fight back fast with tums. calcium rich tums goes to work in seconds. nothing works faster. ♪ tum ta tum tum tums nyqui tylenol: me, too. and cougnasal congestion.ers? nothing works faster.
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going from also running to top tier, rick santorum is all the rage recently. he's enjoying a larger media
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scrum and withstanding a higher level of scrutiny. i spoke with santorum earlier this week about his use of earmarks while in congress. the former senator saw over a billion dollars in federal money for pet projects back home. he explained to me that back then earmarks were not a dirty word. >> went that became evident and the public was upset about it and saw this as a real disqualifier that shouldn't be done anymore, i said, look, if the public is saying that congress shouldn't be doing this anymore, i'll go along with it. but it's not a particularly hard thing for a presidential candidate to say they're against congressional earmarks because that means the president gets the ability to spend more of that money without congress telling them how to do it. so i understand the problem. but, you know, we have a very good and strong record on spending. >> like others in the race, santorum calls himself the consistent conservative, though
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he fesses up to lapses. >> i've made some mistakes. for example, i talk all the time about having voted for no child left behind. it was a mistake. it was a dumb thing to vote for because it gave federal control over education. it was something that i didn't advocate for but i voted for. so you go through and you learn from what you have gone through in your career. and the great thing i had was a few years to step out, take a look at the career, look at what's going on in washington to see the problems that i didn't see as clearly from outside and come back with a lot of commitment and the ability to get a lot of these things done. >> santorum dismisses the notion that he's too far to the right beat president obama. he says he can and has won those working-class socially conservative voters once known as reagan democrats. >> we need someone who understands the intrinsic value of the role of the american family and fought those issues when it wasn't popular.
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i'm the candidate who was able to win in states as a conservative and getting democrats and independents to vote for us when i was out there fighting all these battles. mitt romney has no track history of doing that. in fact, he's only run as a moderate or liberal and when as a conservative last time, he lost. look at our record and the people of iowa, the more they look and the people of america the more they look they're going to see someone who is exactly the right person to carry the mail and has the right policies to deliver that mail in the swing states in this country. >> santorum has spent more time here in iowa than any other candidate. the question is whether it will pay off tuesday. we'll have iowa's governor next.
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announcer: chill raw and prepared foods promptly. one in 6 americans will get sick from food poisoning this year. keep your family safer. check your steps at joining me from his state capital to talk about the influence of iowa, republican governor terry branstad. thank you for joining us here. >> but. >> beautiful building. >> thank you. we're proud of it. >> i imagine. it's gorgeous. you've seen "the des moines register" poll this morning. romney, paul, santorum. think that's how -- >> i predicted all along that santorum was going to do a lot
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better than the polls showed previously. the fact that he's been here a lot, gone to all 99 counties has helped him. romney has done a bus tour lately and has had bigger crowds than ever before. it's a wide open race. people have been watching the debates and looking for the perfect candidate. >> is that the key? typically eye oh wants have the freedom to vote their heart like, boy, this guy is right with me. do they have that freedom? is it different with this caucus now? do they need to look and say which one of these guys can get into the white house? >> i think iowans and americans generally are looking for someone who will focus on things that revitalize the private sector and bring jobs back and also get this federal deficit under control. we don't want to be like europe and have this massive debt which is just going to strangle future generations. >> do you think that iowans are going to vote with their heads this time around? is electability the key thing? i was elected governor again two
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years ago basically because people were looking for a meerd leader that can restore assistant and predictable and focus on jobs and getting our financial house in order. i think that happened across the upper midwest here with the election of governors. i think it's going to be a key issue in the election in the next president as well. >> if ron paul should win this, and he's got a great organization here, as you know, do you think with so many people saying in some polls indicating that he's not electable on a nationwide basis, do you think that renders the iowa caucuses meaningless in their message? >> i don't think so because iowa caucuses have always winnowed the field to about three candidates so, ill's all about beating expectations here. ron paul to his credit has put a lot of time, effort, resources in and his focus on that he's voted against all of these deficits, he's been against all of this manipulation of the currency i think has resonated with iowa voters. i think people also had concerns about his position on foreign
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policy. and as a result, i think as they sorted out, i think he's going to get a significant showing here. but even if he wins iowa, i think it's really a question of who is going to be in the top three. the person that's going to really lose -- >> you answer that question. >> i can tell you who is not going to be in it and that's jon huntsman. he messed up big time. he skipped iowa and the result is he's an asterisk and he's never going to get beyond that. >> i want to talk to you in a second about jon huntsman. but in looking at it now, what does your gut tell you that the top three will be? >> i predicted all along that santorum will do better than people expect. i think he can get in the top three. it looks to me like romney, paul, and santorum. but i think -- don't count out congressman -- or senator -- excuse me. i think the other one that could
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do better than some expect would be governor perry. and also gingrich who just a few weeks ago was ahead, and i don't know where he's going to end up but he seems to be going down. it is really wide open and it really depends upon who turns out. i think we're going to have a good turnout. i think people are really concerned about the direction of the country and they want a new leader. >> let me talk to you a bit about november and iowa. the president won here by 9 1/2 percentage points the last time around here. he has quite a team here. the obama folks are out pushing today about what kind of structure they have in place for november. does iowa stay red? sorry. does iowa say democratic? >> i think there's a great chance to be to beat obama, just like i beat the incumbent governor last time. people are unhappy with the direction of the country. >> but the economy is good. >> yes, but not because of him, but because of agriculture. he's divided the country.
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he said he would bring people together. he had the opportunity to do that in the state of the union a year ago, and instead what he did, he punted. and he spent all of his time now attacking the very people, the entrepreneurs and the businesspeople that need to invest and create jobs. that's not the way to bring this country together. they look at his record. obama's health care is a disaster. it would increase our participation in medicaid by $150,000. we can't afford that, nor can other states in this country is, and he's still not willing to admit that he's moving the country in the wrong direction. and i think we need a new leader, and that's why -- i think that's why there cease so much interest and i think a good chance to defeat. my goal is as governor, unite the republican party, attract the independents, and defeat obama. we launched him, we want to sink him. >> republican iowa governor terry branstad. need i say that?
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thank you so much for joining us. we appreciate it. >> thank you very much. good to be with you. coming up, mitt romney plays down iowa expectations but the signs are pointing to a good night for the former massachusetts governor. we'll explain next. oh it's clearance time! yeah, our low prices are even lower. we need to teach her how to walk. she is taking up valuable cart space. aren't you, honey? [ male announcer ] it's our biggest clearance event of the year where our prices are even lower. save money. live better. walmart. othis was the gulf's bestces tourism season in years. all because so many people wanted to visit us... in louisiana. they came to see us in florida... nice try, they came to hang out with us in alabama... once folks heard mississippi had the welcome sign out, they couldn't wait to get here. this year was great but next year's gonna be even better. and anyone who knows the gulf knows that winter is primetime fun time. the sun's out and the water's beautiful. you can go deep sea fishing for amberjack, grouper and mackerel.
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filled by the electability factor mitt romney's momentum seems palpable here in iowa. >> i want to win iowa. everybody wants to iowa. >> in 2008 caucuses, romney spent a lot of time and close to $10 million to woo iowans paying an army of staffers to build a network of supporters. >> i love iowa a whole lot. >> but romney finished a distance second to mike huckabee, a favorite of iowa's conservative and evangelical
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voters who dominated caucus turnout. this time around romney has spent less money and less than three weeks in iowa using the network he set up in 2008 his original goal was to make a good enough showing in iowa to stay viable for the rest of the primary season without wasting time and resources on a state not necessarily attune to his brand of republicanism. but as romney's wife told me two days ago it's so different this time around. and she's right. unlike four years ago when they caucused for huckabee, the social conservative voting bloc is split among four candidates. 25% romney got in 2008 may be enough to win this in 2012. he's got a solid lead in new hampshire and iowa win could propel romney to do what no other gop presidential candidate has -- sweep the first two contests. up next, we'll ask our panel, can anyone stop romney. it could be very abrasive. if the surface gets abraded, it's just the environment
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joining me now, two veteran campaign reporters, kneel king of the "wall street journal" and dan balz of the "washington post." thanks, guys, for joining us.
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i want to start with someone more veteran than the two of you and that's bob doyle, the republican nominee in '96 and in the senate forever before that. i talked to him earlier. he, of course, is a romney supporter and i asked him why. i want to play you his response. >> he looks like a president, he acts like a president, he talks like a president, and just seems to me this is romney's time. >> does it seem to you this is romney's time? >> in many ways it does seem like it's romney's time. he is the person who has run before. he's a favorite of a lot of the republican establishment. he's scooping up endorsements. for a long time people have thought that if there's a likely nominee it's him and yet he has struggled and struggled and struggled to show, a, that he can generate enthusiasm among the base of a party that's clearly in a different place than he is, and, two, to grow the support over what he's had in the past. >> and he is blessed in some ways by who he is running against. >> yeah. i mean, that's the amazing thing.
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what's interesting, "the des moines register" poll that came out this morning had him and basically exactly where he was four years ago in the des moines register poll then and yet, of course, he lost that race. magic of this iowa caucus is he could win conceivably with that same support because there's such a fractured field on the other side of the republican spectrum. >> it's the evangelical vote, religious conservative vote that put huckabee over the top, and now they're looking at four different candidates, which is why there is all this talk about the evangelicals trying to get one of these guys to get out. >> yeah, there's been a whole series of meetings among pastors and others over the last month or weeks. it's not going to happen, that's pretty clear. but trying to cut a deal along them for there to be a coalescing. the only coalescing has been behind rick santorum. in the end if evangelicals come out in big numbers, it's sketchy whether they will, they could possibly push him into second place or maybe even into first place. >> then we'd have a story to
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write. >> a story to write. >> either way, i'd probably say something about it on wednesday morning. i was amazed when newt gingrich began to rise at the beginning of december, everybody thought he's not -- this is not michele bachmann. this is not rick perry. this is a guy who has been around the block. this is not his first rodeo. he can use this limelight and turn it into something. in "the des moines register" poll, couple of things caught my eye. 36% of the likely republican caucus goers found him to be the least consistent candidate. 41% thought he was the most ego driven candidate. did newt -- what happened to newt? did he do himself in and was helped along by the ads or did the ads just remind people who he was and that was sort of solely responsible? >> i think the ads have had a lot to do with it.
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he's had a tremendous amount of attack poured on him for the last month and has basically violated the fundamental rule of politics, which is don't let an attack go unanswered. he tried to stay above it in part i think because he knew his own history suggested if he went hard against those it would be bring up the bad side of newt people remembered. he was in a very difficult position. i think those ads did a tremendous amount of damage to him. >> his greatest moment over the many, many debates we had that catapulted him up in the polls. woe went into this big period, a couple weeks where there were no debates, and instead there was this aerial barrage on him in iowa. that's what done it, i think. >> let me play for you real quick. santorum put an ad up recently that speaks to i think the biggest thing that weighs him down. take a listen. >> who has the best chance to beat obama? rick santorum, a trusted conservative who gives us the best chance to take back america.
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>> who has the best chance to beat obama, rick santorum. seems to me they know their biggest problem is people look and go, yeah, that's nice but rick santorum just doesn't have the wherewithal. does this -- i asked both our iowa politicians, do you think this race comes down -- this race in iowa right now comes down to caucusgoers wanting the most electable or caucusgoers wanting the person that most defines who they are. >> that's the big struggle. for the moment the polls suggested there's a sort of pragmatism out there, a lot of evangelical voters moved by a core set of issues look at electability issue, the leadership issue and leaning in that direction. that's what romney wants more than anything because that's his main pitch. >> romney is the head candidate. >> if you look at the various attributes they tested, the only one where he really shines is electability. he's way ahead of everybody else on that. on all other attributes he doesn't. if mitt romney wins these
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caucuses, it will be because iowa voters decided electability above all was what they wanted. >> in a crowd that really, really wants president obama to be a one-term president, you've got to believe a lot of these folks are going in there going he's not with me on everything but he could win. >> possibly. >> possibly. >> that's what they think. i'm mirroring them. dan and neil, thank you both so much. up next our "sounds of sunday," highlights from the other sunday morning talk shows. then "fareed zakaria: gps." [ slap! slap! ] [ male announcer ] your favorite foods fighting you? fight back fast with tums. calcium rich tums goes to work in seconds. nothing works faster. ♪ tum tum tum tum tums
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time for today's "sounds of sunday." say this for rick santorum -- he's got great timing. his poll numbers are up as the clock ticks down. on the wrong side of that equation, two other conservatives, michele bachmann and rick perry, whose fortunes have fallen as time has passed. fishing in the same voter pool as santorum, both argued today they are the true conservatives. >> if you look at the spinning issue, senator santorum voted for the bridge to nowhere. he's defended earmarks. spending, which is the number-one issue, he has been a big spender in washington, d.c. that's not what the american people are looking for. they want someone who's a fiscal conservative. >> well, there's a lot of differences between myself and rick santorum. as michele talked about, he's got a spending problem. he's got an earmark problem. i'm going to let him explain to people why did you vote to raise
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the debt ceiling and why was it so important for you to vote for the bridge to nowhere? >> still, it is santorum who is sitting pretty in the final days before the caucuses, and he knows it. >> my surge is going to come on january 3rd after the people of iowa do what they do, analyze the candidates, figure out what their positions are, figure out who's got the right leader, who's got what it takes to defeat barack obama and lead this country. there are three primaries. the conservative primary, and you mentioned the other two who i think are in that one. the libertarian primary. then you have gingrich and romney sort of fighting for the establishment vote. our feeling was from the beginning if we can pace ahead of perry and/or bachmann, we'd be in good shape and, you know, we're moving in that direction. >> as heady as santorum's numbers are in iowa, it